‘No time to wait’: French economy minister lashes out at Germany for delaying approval of EU coronavirus relief plan

France’s Minister for Economy, Finance and Recovery, Bruno Le Maire, has scolded Germany for delaying an EU Covid-19 aid package, after that country’s top court paused its ratification last week.

Last year, the EU agreed to direct €750 billion ($884bn) on mitigating the economic damage caused by the pandemic. All of the bloc’s 27 member states must formally sign off on the recovery plan, and only 16 have so far done so.

Le Maire criticized “states like Germany who are imposing additional delays,” referring to a recent decision by the country’s top court to suspend the ratification process.

“I promised the French people that the European money would arrive at the start of the summer, at the start of July,” the minister told TV channel CNews on Friday.

“I would like Europe to understand that we shouldn’t have to wait before being able to spend that money,” Le Maire said, urging EU countries to speed up the ratification of the recovery plan so that “history does not repeat itself.”

Le Maire praised the US, saying that “the American cavalry arrived on time” in terms on adopting Covid-19 relief plans. “I’d like the European cavalry to arrive on time as well,” he said.

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Germany’s Constitutional Court temporarily blocked the country’s president from signing the EU recovery plan last week in order to deal with lawsuits filed against it. The plaintiffs include the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and a civic group named Citizens’ Will Alliance, which argue against greenlighting massive spending without control and conditions, asserting that it violates European law.

A European Commission spokesperson told reporters on Monday that it was “crucial” that the coronavirus recovery package is ratified by all EU nations before the end of June. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that it could take the German court up to three months to examine legal challenges. 

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